By Keith Fenner
Senior Vice President of Sales for Africa at Softline Accpac, part of the Sage Group plc.

Keith Fenner

Keith Fenner

Supply Chain Management (SCM) involves the supply of goods or services required by a customer.  The process involves many connected parties that are involved in the goods or services reaching their final destination. APICS defines it as the design, planning, execution, control and monitoring of supply chain activities.

The supply chain management cycle in Africa is vital for our customers to remain competitive with the ability to measure and monitor performance globally.  Planning and visibility is the key requirement in any successful SCM module from a logistical point of view and pre-costing from a financial point of view.  This visibility must extend to your suppliers and all the connected parties in that process in order to land goods at the right time and the right cost.  The visibility will lead to a lower stock holding which in turn will free up working capital to use elsewhere in the business.

How does SCM fit into Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP)?

Many ERP solutions only cater for a product once landed and costed but this is the first time the costs are known and stock is visible which does limit planning and cash-flow.  Typically goods can end up in stock and then additional costs are apportioned afterwards from a financial costing perspective based on weight, volume or value.  This is a very basic option and can lead to discrepancies when reviewing the gross profit on item level as these additional costs typically alloy across many stock items in a container.  A true SCM solution has a dedicated module where shipping routes, tariff codes, manage rules such as FOB and additional cost categories can be created and used to manage the true costing of goods in detail.  A module like this allows businesses to plan the costings and apply provisionally to stock before the additional cost invoices arrive, as often the stock has already been sold which causes further discrepancies. Once the final costs are known, the module will reverse the provision and add the correct apportioned costs to stock.  Moreover, in a modern web based ERP with SCM, you can simply give access to parts of the module to your suppliers to complete data relevant for shipping again improving collaboration.

When does is the right time to consider an SCM system?

Typically when importing starts to become a major problem in costing is the time to consider this solution.  When the frequency and volumes increase as well as the costs of warehousing, this is the time to review a proper integrated SCM and ERP.  It will massively reduce costs and deliver a better experience and service to their customers.

Advice

The best advice we can give is that SCM is not simple.  A distinction needs to be made between apportioning costs to landed stock which is the most basic requirement for a small business and what an importer looks for in order to better manage costs, improve service and delivery collaboration across the supply chain.  The key to the latter topic is a fully integrated SCM with ERP that has touch points across purchasing, suppliers, stock, warehousing, customers, customer service and costing that also talks directly to the supplier and customer with web based portals.  Luckily Sage ERP solutions have a scalable set of solutions for all sizes of businesses.